Whenever you go camping to enjoy the serenity in the UAE's desert and mountains, it's easy to lose track of time — but this wasn't the case for Filipino expat Patrick Fronda. He and other campers couldn't help but watch the clock as they endured non-stop karaoke and raucous laughter during a getaway in Ras Al Khaimah.

"They started singing in the evening — which was fine because it was nice to have some music when you're camping. But then it went on and on. At around 1.30am to 2am, the karaoke was still on," said Fronda, who went camping at Ras Al Khaimah's Wadi Shawka with family and friends during the long Eid weekend.

They weren't able to sleep at all as the "excessive noise" continued into the early morning hours.

"They stopped only at around 5.30am, when they ran out of drinks," said the expat, adding that the chatter was so loud they could hear all the gossip they were laughing about even though they were 750 metres away.

It turned out Fronda and his group weren't the only ones who encountered raucous parties during what should have been a relaxing camping escapade.

Over the past couple of days, a Facebook group for the community was flooded with rants about rowdy campers.

Two Netizens shared short video clips of people on full party mode — complete with big speakers and lights — in the wee hours of the night.

"They arrived at 1am (in Wadi Shawka) and started making noise, talking to each other at the top of their voices," an anonymous member of the UAE Dubai Camping Lovers group said on Wednesday.

"We had to request them to lower their voices and the volume of their music (to no avail). A public place is meant to be shared and respected... Do not camp if you cannot consider those who wish to sleep," she added, sharing a clip of people partying at the campsite at 2.52am on April 10.

Midnight 'concert' in the desert?

Another member of the group posted a similar clip but taken from Dubai's Al Qudra desert.

"It's okay to play music but keep the sound within your perimeter. We opted to leave early because we couldn't sleep. We didn't realise we would be attending a 'concert' while camping," he said as he shared a video of a group of people singing and dancing with huge speakers blaring in the background.

Somewhere in Fujairah, Iris Sefranek also encountered noisy crowds. "The worst one is (the group who) finished around 6am the next day," she said. "They were drinking and playing loud music."

Ivy Bondoc Marigmen, a business owner in Abu Dhabi, nearly called the police when a group of bachelors arrived in Dubai's Al Qudra desert with their portable speaker, playing loud music at 11.30pm.

"I went and told them to stop else I will call the police. They stopped immediately.... A little respect (must be given to) others who just want peace and relaxation," she said.

'I don't want to camp anymore'

Such scenarios aren't new to Filipino nurse Kaye Bitoon, who lives in Ras Al Khaimah, a favourite camping destination.

Bitoon had been camping since 2017 but completely stopped doing so after "consecutive" encounters with noisy campers and litterbugs.

"One time, I encountered a group who came with speakers and guitars, etc., and they were really noisy. It was like they were having a concert or something and went on even after midnight," she told Khaleej Times.

"There was also another time when I called the authorities. A group of Filipino campers came to a beach in Ras Al Khaimah in a minivan and did some karaoke but ended up getting drunk and fighting," she said.

"The same thing happened when I went to have dinner with friends at Mangrove Beach in Umm Al Quwain. There was loud karaoke. We had to move far away so we won't be bothered."

That was the last time Bitoon went camping, she said. For those who find themselves in such situations, here's her advice: "Report them to the municipality of the emirate you're in, so they can get fined."

A different view

While there were several complaints about noisy campers, posts were met with another sentiment: 'There's a huge area for camping, why not choose a quiet place?'

"I've seen Emiratis who do not complain even if the noise they are hearing is louder than karaoke. When you go camping, you can always find your spot. If you want peace and quiet, go farther — same as what I did last night," said an Abu Dhabi-based camper who wished to stay anonymous because of his "unpopular" opinion.

Here's a photo of his 4WD at a secluded spot in the desert:

Ness Olayta agreed, saying it's better to "find another spot where no one camps beside you at least a hundred metres away".

"I must admit we can go loud but we take into consideration that we don't disturb other people, so we choose to be as far as we can go," the Filipino expat told Khaleej Times.

For this Eid, Olayta chose to go to Saraya Island in Ras Al Khaimah:

Another commenter said: "Maybe we have to suggest a law that would establish camping sites for those who want peace and quiet and another one for 'rock and roll'."

Makii Gomez, a Dubai-based architect who has been camping for the last 10 years, called for tolerance and understanding.

"We all want to enjoy. But, of course, you will encounter different kinds of campers — including those who bring their speakers and karaoke. If the area is secluded, I guess it's okay and no one will call you out," the expat said.

"When some people become too loud, we usually approach them in a nice way and ask them to lower their volumes. But then, there are those who get louder after that. We can't avoid such instances."

The best thing one should do, he said, is to know the rules and regulations.

Camping rules

At camp sites in the UAE, dos and don'ts are usually listed on signboards. Some of them include 'loud noises' and 'loudspeakers' as part of the no-nos.

At least 10 offences can get one fined:

  1. Dh2,000: For littering in Sharjah; Dh500 in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah for the same
  2. Dh2,000: For camping in unauthorised areas in both Sharjah and Fujairah
  3. Dh2,000: For lighting bonfire on ground; Dh500 in RAK - Jabel Jais, for the same
  4. Dh2,000: Cooking on ground
  5. Dh2,000: For oil spills from vehicles in the wilderness
  6. Dh500: For barbecuing and grilling at undesignated places like beaches, green areas and parks.
  7. Dh10,000: Causing ecological damages, like removing grass, cutting trees or removing sand from an area
  8. Dh5,000: For entering protected areas
  9. Dh15,000: For hunting inside a protected area
  10. Dh1,000: For parking wrongfully and violating traffic rules (RAK - Jebel Jais)

There may not be specific penalties for being "too loud" but disturbing public order could be an offence punishable by fines under municipality rules, depending on the area.

Residents are urged to file complaints or call 24/7 municipality hotlines to report violations.

"The government should at least look into this," Fronda said. "We want to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city, enjoy the scenery and serenity of nature — but then you'll see people with no respect. I hope this can raise awareness."

(With inputs from Angel Tesorero)

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